2012 Acura RL

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2012 Acura RL Review

By KBB.com Editors

The 2012 Acura RL’s strong points are a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, a comfortable and quiet interior and a strong V6 engine. Yet, the RL is often lost amid stiff competition from the likes of the BMW 5 and 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and even its own not-so-little brother, the Acura TL, which has many of the same features as the RL and costs less. This marks the final year for the long-running RL before its successor, the Acura RLX, arrives in 2013 with even more advanced and innovative technology.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you want a largish, premium sedan that has a quiet cabin, sophisticated all-wheel drive, Japanese reliability and understated competence, the RL is worth considering. In addition, being an RL owner also means driving a car that’s somewhat out of the ordinary.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If exhilarating V8 performance, stand-out looks or badge recognition are your automotive requirements, look to German and Japanese competitors, or even the Cadillac CTS.

What's New for 2012

With a revised fascia and new, 6-speed transmission introduced in the 2011 model year, the final-year model of the Acura RL carries over mostly unchanged. An upgraded navigation system now features updated traffic maps covering 130 areas within the United States and Canada.

Driving the RL
Driving Impressions

Quiet and competent describe the 2012 RL. The quiet is accomplished with noise reduction technology that literally extends to the wheels, which are specially designed for less resonation. The competence...

... is from a 3.7-liter V6 engine that makes 300 horsepower and moves the comfortable sedan with responsive performance, and from its Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. With all four wheels driving the vehicle through a torque vectoring technology that keeps delivering the power to the wheels that can best use it, the Acura feels supremely planted even on wet, slippery roads. The Acura RL is a very comfortable car to drive, and strongly favors that attribute over the sportier sort of characteristics found with, say, the BMW 5 Series or the Cadillac CTS. When more quickness is desired a sport mode delivers faster acceleration. The RL is very good at soaking up unwanted noise, awkward bumps and road irregularities, and always feels at ease.

Dubbed “SH-AWD,” this system drives all four wheels, gives the 2012 RL superior traction and is particularly beneficial on slippery surfaces.

Ease into its posh cabin and the 2012 Acura RL feels even more expensive than its price might suggest. Super-soft leather and available maple wood trim add to the luxury.

2012 Acura RL Details

The Acura RL’s interior is showing its age. Its vertically-spread dash buttons, a thick steering wheel and flat colors might have worked a few years ago, but not so much today. That said, the RL’s creature comforts are up to par with other luxury vehicles and include ventilated front seats, backup sensors and a Bose 10-speaker audio system that can play USB drives, iPods, DVD audio discs and CDs. The front seats are very comfortable and rear legroom is generous. At just over 13 cubic feet, the RL’s trunk capacity is on the small side among this class.

2012 Acura RL photo

The 2012 Acura RL’s understated nature includes its somewhat innocuous appearance. In fact, you’d be forgiven if, at first glance, you mistook it for a Honda Accord. It’s not that the RL is not good-looking; it just doesn’t particularly stand out from the crowd. The RL’s front and rear ends do have some character, but are much more conservative than the recent looks of the Acura TL. Large 18-inch alloy wheels and twin tailpipes convey a hint of performance.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2012 Acura RL has a 3.7-liter V6, all-wheel-drive, a 6-speed automatic transmission, power moonroof, power rear sunshade and manual rear-door sunshades, a 260-watt 10-speaker audio system with voice recognition and six airbags. As with other Acura vehicles, the RL comes with Total Luxury Care, which offers roadside assistance, concierge service and emergency travel assistance.

Optional Equipment

Major options for the Acura RL are bundled into packages. The Technology Package adds satellite navigation with real-time traffic and GPS-linked climate control, rear-view camera, backup sensors and ventilated front seats. The top-of-the-line Advance Package includes a collision-mitigation system, adaptive cruise control and power-folding side mirrors.

Under the Hood

The 2012 Acura RL is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 300 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque, more than enough power to move this comfortable all-wheel drive sedan with easy response. Premium unleaded fuel is recommended. The transmission is a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic that can be manually shifted via steering wheel-mounted paddles; the transmission contributes to the RL’s EPA highway fuel-economy rating of 24 mpg.

3.7-liter V6
300 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
271 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg

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